It will be a different fight this time if Deepak clashes with Yazdani: Coach Virender

New Delhi, Jul 15 (PTI): The hesitancy of taking the mat against someone you idolise does not torment Deepak Punia’s soul anymore and if the draw at the Tokyo Olympics puts him face to face with Iranian legend Hassan Yazdani again, it will be a bout to watch, reckons his coach Virender Kumar.
Deepak, who grew up idolising the 2016 Olympic champion and two-time World champion Yazdani, first found himself up against the Iranian at the 2019 World Championship summit clash.
The bout finished in favour of Yazdani without any action with Deepak forfeiting the final due to a leg injury. The second time he found himself pitted against Yazdani was at the Asian Championship gold medal bout in Almaty in April this year.
In awe of Yazdani, Deepak’s defence fell apart in no time as the Iranian raced to a technical superiority victory, accentuated by lightning-fast moves.
“It’s natural to be flummoxed when you have to fight with the wrestler you have idolised growing up. But that hesitancy is a thing of the past. He discussed that Asian final bout with me and already has a plan in place,” Virender told PTI in an interview at his academy in Marmurpur on the outskirts of Delhi.
“Yazdani grew in stature and progressed by beating his seniors, so it’s not that he is invincible. This time if Deepak has to wrestle with him, he will be prepared,” he said.
“Sushil and Sakshi were not tipped to win Olympic medals, but they did.”
So what’s the plan to counter the dominant 26-year-old Iranian, who has won most of his bouts either by fall or technical superiority?
“Yazdani is tall and uses his hands well to confuse his opponent.
Deepak stood in front of him and that was a mistake. Now he has to move sideways and launch the attack from there, not from the front,” said Virender.
Yazdani is the top seed at the Tokyo Games in the 86kg category and 21-year-old Deepak is seeded second. So if at all they meet, it will not be before the gold medal bout.
The 50-year-old Virender has played a key part in moulding the wrestling style of Deepak, who like most Indians, began his tryst with the game at the ‘Dangals’.
About a year ago, Virender moved out of Chhatrasal stadium, where Deepak’s elder brother Sunil brought him for training when he was 14-years old.

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